The Actionalist Perspective of Social Movements Vs. Resource Mobilization; With References to the Mexican Case.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:45
Oral Presentation
Ilan BIZBERG, El Colegio de Mexico, Mexico

This paper defends the perspective of the significance of social movements developed by Alain Touraine, against the hegemonic outlook to study these phenomena owing to the contentious politics/resource mobilization school developed in the Unites States by Tilly, Tarrow, McAdam, and others. I will defend the idea that to understand social movements, it is necessary to move away from most of the current sociological studies that are dominated by the perspective of resource mobilization, according to which social movements have to be analyzed in terms of their ability to influence the power system of a society, considering their action merely as strategies to seize opportunities to impose their power or influence a government. This perspective analyzes movements based on their ability to consolidate themselves internally and accumulate resources to influence the political system. It distinguishes the character of social movements according to whether they are competitive, reactive or proactive, but does not analyze the signification of their action.

In this paper we endorse the idea that although it is important to analyze the capacity of social movements to impact on the political system, we miss the point if we do not study them according to the meaning that they themselves give to their action (so to speak: the inner face of their action), as does the actionalist school of Alain Touraine. From this perspective, movements that seem unimportant if viewed on the basis of their immediate political impact may be strongly charged with an ethical sense, which may (or may not) have a greater influence in the future, or in a place other than that of its emergence. In the case of Mexico, movements that have not had a weighty political impact like #Yosoy132; MPJD, and the movements over Ayotzinapa, are the basis of a reconstruction of the Mexican society.